Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Best Response to the Ghostbusters Controversy Yet

I generally stay far, far away from geek fights online, but I love that when I DO bring up a hot topic, you guys bring your A game in the comments. Lotta good points raised last post, and I like that we can debate here without bashing.

Anyway, over on the Epbot Facebook page, I was delighted to see the top-rated response to my GB post was from one of my favorite artists, Karen Hallion:

Karen does all those amazing Doctor Who/Disney Princess mash-up t-shirts you've seen, plus about a billion other fabulous prints and shirts. (She's also SUPER nice IRL.)

Anyway, a few hours later on Twitter:

And THEN Karen posted this:

[Kermit flail] AAAAAA!!

Yep, I think I see another t-shirt purchase in my future.

Oh, and Karen? If you can work a little StayPuft magic in there I will love you forever.


Happy weekend, guys!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ghostbusters Is For Girls!

As I'm sure you guys have picked up over the years, I am a HUGE Ghostbusters fan.

So to get my daily dose of 'bustin' I follow a popular GB fan page over on Facebook.

Let me show you the top-rated comments on that page's last 2 posts regarding the all-female cast announced for the new movie:

Let me clarify that the facebook page itself said nothing negative. These are all just the fans' reactions. And count the upvotes on that jaw-droppingly sexist top meme, guys. COUNT 'EM.

This next post was only an hour old when I took the screenshot:

It's not just the top-voted comments that are awful, either; all of them are. I couldn't find a single positive remark about the cast or the movie. NOT ONE.

Over at The Replica Prop Forum, another great geek page I follow, things aren't much better. All they did was link the same Esquire article the GB page did:

And here are their top-rated comments:

Now, I get it: geeks are, by very definition, passionate people. Every new reboot of a beloved franchise is going to cause a firestorm of controversy, no matter what. This one is just especially heated because it brought all the sexist knuckle-draggers out of their caves.

Personally, I am beyond thrilled at the thought of some ass-kicking lady Ghostbusters hitting the big screen. Brainy, everyday women who fight their own battles in outfits NOT painted on with liquid latex? YES, PLEASE.

At the same time, I worry they'll go too heavy on the slap-stick, neglecting the heart and heroics for easy laughs at stereotypically "girl" things. And I'm a little heartbroken that Tina Fey isn't involved.

But hey, that's a writing thing, and I admit I have no real basis for those fears. It's just a worst-case scenario, running through my head.

So really, the only thing *I* see to be upset about here is that they're making the movie a reboot. Blurrrg. Why, Hollywood, why? I SO want to see women 'busting, but why does it have to be at the price of eradicating the original lore? No more Spengler and Stanz? No more Winston and Venkman? Really? Give us that history, so we can have homages and references to the original films, cameos from the surviving cast, and a sense of legacy. Then you're only adding to something great, instead of trying to replace it all together. I mean, COME. ONNNN!

[patting down hair]

Sorry; may have got a little nerd rage on ya there.

Reboot disappointments aside, though, I really want this movie to work. Because if these jerks online have shown us anything, it's that we NEED female Ghostbusters, just to show 'em how it's done.

 (Epbot reader Joanna's daughter Fya, from my post here)

Am I right, ladies?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cool Valentines For Geek Girls!

I was stuck in a CVS for over an hour the other day, waiting on the clinic's nurse practitioner to tell me I probably have an ear infection, because my ear was just jealous of John's ear getting all the attention after his surgery. That, or my new dental filling has gone horribly wrong.

So, antibiotics *AND* a return trip to the dentist? Could this week.... BE any better? (Everyone else is marathoning Friends on Netflix right now, too, right?)

Anyhoo, while prowling the aisles in boredom, I discovered some surprisingly great Valentines' cards, and thought I'd share:


Classic Wonder Woman! (With a blue paracord bracelet.)

3D Donald!

And perfect for steampunks:

The compass is layered, so it has a nice 3D effect, and the card is flocked velvet. SUPER pretty in person.

For a little gee-whiz factor, check THIS action out: the envelope has a functioning lock on it!
 It comes with a separate card to lock inside the envelope - and the recipient can wear the key as a charm! So cool. (Only about $8, too!)

And finally, some sweet Tinkerbell art, because yes I still like glittery fairies:

I'm always in favor of supporting independent artists when you can, of course, but it's nice to see options like this at a big retailer, too. Especially when you're grumpy and have an earache. So thanks, CVS.

PS: Speaking of Tinkerbell, have you SEEN the new effects in the Peter Pan queue at the Magic Kingdom? WOWIE. First time Disney has really floored me in ages. Definitely take a look!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

DIY Faux Brick Painting Tutorial

Whether you're looking to re-paint real brick or make over some faux brick paneling, here's how to do it!

First, find a picture of a brick wall that you like, so you'll have a solid color reference. (Pinterest is great for this.) Here's my inspiration photo:


And here's my finished brick:

Mine doesn't match the reference exactly; I wanted it less pink and more grungy. John made three different sample boards to help me nail the colors, which is a great idea if you're like me and have trouble visualizing. Here's our sample board outside in the sunlight:

You can see a lot of dark lines in there, but in the actual room I was able to finesse the technique to avoid most of those, so I think it looks more natural:

So let's get to it!

You Will Need:

4 colors of paint:

    - the grout color (I used a creamy off-white)
    - 2 complementary brick colors, one about 2 shades darker than the other
   - the "dirt" color - a grungy dark brown or gray

Note: Make sure your brick colors are much lighter & brighter than you want the end product to look, since we're going to grunge them up a LOT. If you're unsure, this is where sample boards help!

For tools, you'll need all the usual supplies for painting a room: rollers, brushes, painter's tape, drop cloths, etc., but also, and most importantly:

-  A small, flat-edged foam roller and frame, like this:

Make sure your roller has that sharp, flat edge; the rounded edge rollers won't let you get into the corners and up against the trim, which is verrrry important.

- And a cheap chip brush (pictured above) or any other brush that has extremely stiff bristles.


 To my knowledge there's only one kind of brick paneling out there, and this is it. Great quality, very convincing texture, and SUPER dark. (We found ours at Lowe's for about $26 per sheet.)

Step 1) Paint your brick or brick paneling the grout color. Yes, all of the brick. But don't worry about doing a second coat; this finish WANTS to look imperfect and grungy. So embrace the grunge, my friends. EMBRACE IT.

Ta-da! Grout colored walls.

Step 2) Use your handy-dandy foam roller to LIGHTLY roll the walls with the lighter of your brick colors. Since you only want the bricks themselves to catch the color, NOT the grout, roll in diagonal lines, not up-and-down or side-to-side. And only load your roller with a little paint at a time.

Your coverage won't be even close to perfect, and again, that's ok. Embraaaace the gruuuunge!

Step 3) Randomly paint individual bricks with your darker brick color. You can do this with your little foam roller, or paint them in with a brush. Either way.

(Sorry for the terrible cellphone pics, btw; I didn't think about writing up a tutorial while we were doing this!)

Now, are you ready... FOR THE MAGIC?!

Step 4) This is the most important step, so here's where you'll want to spend most of your time. That said, it's ridiculously fast and easy; in essence, you're just repeating Step 2, only with the "dirt" paint color. A few tips, though:

- Load your foam roller with the dark paint, and then roll it out on a scrap piece of cardboard or wood several times to get most of it off again. You've heard of dry-brushing? This is "dry-rolling."

- GENTLY start rolling over a patch of bricks in several different directions, to avoid any obvious up-and-down lines. You can always add more, and a little goes a loooong way, so start out light!

- After you've rolled out a bit and your foam roller is pretty dry, go ahead and start pressing harder into those grout lines, so they pick up a little grungy magic, too.

- Get as close to the trim and corners as you can with your roller, but don't worry; you'll be coming back for those later.

- Contrast Is King, so don't be afraid of dark spots, lines, and imperfections. Trust me, that "oops" moment will probably end up your favorite!

Step 5) When all of your walls are done, it's time to go back to those corners and trim areas you couldn't quite reach with the roller. See the white line in my corner here?

Touch those areas up with your stiff brush, pouncing in a tiny bit of color at a time. I actually made my corners darker than the rest of the wall for a kind of vignette, which I think really frames the room nicely:

Step 6) Touch-up time! Step back, and see where your wall needs a bit more dirt. Use your stiff brush to dry-brush any grout lines that look too clean.

This is also the time to address any paneling seams, since those can leave obvious vertical lines. Use a small artist brush and pounce on more "dirt" to help hide those lines.

I also sanded my paneling seams prior to painting, which helped a lot. Just use a little sandpaper and hit each brick that straddles the seam, since this paneling tends to have a slightly raised lip right at that edge. And if there's a gap, of course, fill that up with caulking. (Again, do this before painting. Heh.)

Step 7) Step back and enjoy the view!

I hope this was helpful, guys! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments!


And for my fellow pinners, here's the best "before-and-after" shot I could come up with:


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fun Finds, 1/22/15: Glowing Shrooms, Make-Under Dolls, & Robot Turtles!

I feel like this week the internet finally shook off its holiday/new year doldrums, and started churning out the Good Stuff again, you know? It's been weeks since I found much online to really inspire or capture my imagination, and now suddenly I'm seeing all KINDS of goodies! (Granted, that could be a reflection of my own doldrums-shaking, but still.)

Some of my favorites:

Glowing Mushroom Tutorial by Matt over at Instructables:

These mushrooms are incredibly life-like, and other than the LED wiring, look pretty simple to make! (Just a little silicon caulking and paint, if you can believe it.) I want to make some to display in a glass dome, like a steampunky specimen jar. Would look SO COOL at night.

Oh, and another instructables user made some with blue LEDs:


My favorite photographer, Tom Bricker, did a quick tutorial on Blending Image Layers:


And while we're at it, Tom went to an Owl Cafe in Japan - an OWL CAFE, people - and wrote up a review of the experience, which is fascinating.  I want this one:

For my fellow Borderlands fans: there's an 11-inch tall, remote-controlled Claptrap coming out in March, and he looks suh-WEET:

He'll cost about $400, and there will only be 5000 made, so... I guess I'll just console myself with our life-sized Claptrap coming together in the garage. Heh.  (More details over at Mashable.)

Remember Lammily, the "realistic fashion doll" that went viral for re-imagining Barbie with actual human proportions? Well in that general spirit, there's a Tasmanian artist now giving Bratz dolls some surprisingly sweet "make-unders:"

Tree Change Dolls repaints the faces, (un)styles the hair, molds new feet, and then outfits these thrift-store finds in clothes she and her mother make by hand:

As I said, the results are surprisingly sweet! Her out-doorsy finished photos really capture the innocence of a much younger and less self-conscious childhood, and the contrast between the dolls' before and after pics could be taken for a serious commentary on today's society - should you be so inclined. (Or if not: lookie! Pretty dolls! :))

Head over to the Tree Change Dolls Tumblr for lots more before-and-afters, and watch that site for her Etsy shop, which she says is coming soon. (And hat tip to Neatorama for the link.)

Another excellent Neatorama find: 40+ DIY uses for wine corks. Most are about what you'd expect (trivets, anyone?), but there are a few real gems in there! My favorite are the drawer pulls from Dollar Store Crafts:

Not sure how durable they'd be long-term, but considering the cost is $FREE, this would be awesome for rustic, vintage, or steampunky designs.

Sue of All Natural Arts just made her best watch-part sculpture yet for Edgar Allen Poe's birthday:

Seriously, how stunning is this?? Sue uses real vintage pocket watches, and those are all tiny watch parts - see how the raven's wings are tiny clock hands? And as if that weren't enough, the pendulum under Poe's ear actually swings back and forth. SWOON.

And finally, in adorable robot news, look what Disney just made!

  This too-cute-for-words, turtle-shaped "Beach Bot" can draw pictures in the sand. Big, BIG pictures:

 And it's orange! ORANGE!!


More over at Wired, where you can watch a video of the BeachBot in action.

So what's inspiring you this month, guys? Hit me up with some more Good Stuff in the comments!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In Which John Gets An Earful...

For those of you not on Facebook, just wanted to let you know John's ear surgery was a total success, and his recovery has been nothing short of amazing!

Just look at that devilish glint in his eye.  Mrowr.

There was a scary few minutes not too long before I took this photo; John almost passed out while the nurse attempted (and failed) to place an IV in his hand - all while describing what she was doing in excruciating detail. (If you ever get the chance, have John tell you this story; it's hilarious, in a cringe-inducing, horrific kind of way.)

Anyway, John's heart rate dropped down to 30bpm while he was NOT passing out,* so they had to give him adrenaline to kick it back up again. Then they came out to the waiting room and got me.

[*John is very adamant on this point. He did not pass out. He just saw swimming ceiling tiles and sent the entire staff into a tizzy while his vitals tanked.]

John looked like hell frozen over when I got back there, and seeing him in an oxygen mask and hooked up to a zillion machines brought back some awful memories of his near-death illness on our first book tour, but before long his color returned, and we were chatting and laughing again.

More good news: the doc was able to do everything without cutting outside the ear, so there are no clunky bandages to change, *and* he found the problem and was able to fix it.

[For those curious: John had a benign tumor removed from his ear when he was 11, and they had to replace most of his ear guts (technical term!) with plastic and cadaver bones. Over the years that shifted and pressed against his ear drum, causing it to deteriorate. So the doc reset the old fix and replaced the damaged part of the ear drum.]

They sent us home with dire warnings of rampant dizziness, pain, and nausea, but - knock on wood - John hasn't so much as needed a Tylenol until today, and he's been rock steady from the moment I helped him out of the hospital bed. I'm starting to suspect he's not even human.

But the best part? Monday night John came to find me in the office, all excited. "JEN," he said, "I can hear myself breathing in my right ear. I can hear it when I brush my hand against that ear! And everything is SO LOUD."

He was grinning so hard there were tears in his eyes.

So I think I speak for us both when I say: "Worth it." 

(John's surgical packing comes out in another week, and after that we'll know if his hearing is really back to 100%. Hopefully that will also help him feel like he's not shouting all the time, since he can hear himself SUPER well right now with that ear all plugged up. Ha!)